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The Bad Flowers - 'Starting Gun' Album Review

1. Thunder Child

2. Lions Blood

3. Secrets

4. Rich Man

5. I Hope

6. Let’s Misbehave

7. Who Needs A Soul

8. Be Your Man

9. Hurricane

10. I Don’t Believe It

11. City Lights

The Bad Flowers ‘formed from the depths of The Black Country in 2014’ comprise of lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Leighton, bassist, Dale Tonksand and Karl Selickis on drums. According to the bands website, ‘The combination of the three makes The Bad Flowers a force to be reckoned with, forging a sound steeped in the raw, passionate energy of the Black country's 70's heroes but all the time keeping it in this century.’ After listening to the album, who am I to disagree.

The Bad Flowers may only be a 3 piece but that does not mean that they lack power in blasting out classic Blues based Rock with power and passion. I found the album so strong that every song deserved a mention within the review.

‘Thunder Child’ starts with 4 beats from top hat then goes straight with all guns blazing. ‘She was born in a cloud of rain’ is a great Rock line. The thundering drums with plenty of symbols combined with driving bass, quick fretwork and licks all work well together. The vocals are strong and varied. This track includes the album title ‘Starting Gun’ within its lyrics and it is easy to see why this is on the single from the album.

‘Lions Blood’ like the opening number is an energetic Rock track with the bass and drums forming the heartbeat of the track. ‘What are you, what are you afraid of’ is the cry of the chorus and this is a catchy hook into the song. Whilst the guitar is good, this track, like a lot of the tracks is dominated by the bass and drums. This demonstrates Dale and Karl’s talent to play off each other. The guitar solo has the drum pounding in the background and builds to the last chorus. This will be a very good live track with the power and energy that it will feed into the crowd.

‘Secrets’ follows the tried and tested 70’s Rock formula of having a vocal with little instrumentation, with the instrumentation punctuating the lyrics. The vocals and instruments then join up with the chorus. Halfway through there is an instrumental building in tempo showing the musical skill of each member of the band. Tom ends the song in a Zepplinesque way drawing out the word ‘Truuuuuuth’ as the outro.

‘Richman’ is a very Bluesy number and its intro is pure Blues. This contrasts with the previous 3 distinctly Rock tracks. The chorus is catchy and the instrumentation is extremely Bluesy. Two thirds of the way through the track the Rock returns before the track reverts back to a pure Blues. This track shows that although The Bad Flowers are a Rock band, their roots are in the era where Rock was king.

‘I Hope’, again contrasts the previous tracks. It is a beautiful love song with just Tom playing an acoustic guitar. This shows off the versatility richness and tone of his voice. It is a very poignant song and shows that Tom is just not a screaming Rock frontman. I might have chosen this for the B side of the single as it shows off a completely different side to the band. The strumming on the acoustic guitar is measured and gives a great rhythm to the song. The lyrics are crisp and clear. The song has a comforting melancholy feel about it, of a love that is lost, but wishing your lost love finds someone they deserve. By know I knew that The Bad Flowers were not just another Rock band.

‘Let’s Misbehave’ again starts slowly with just Tom on acoustic guitar. The band then join in, in another song full of melancholy. A slower gentler song than the ones at the start of the album. It builds back up to the chorus and slows down again for the second verse. Even though it is a gentler song the drumming is at the forefront of the track, not just ticking along in the background. As the bass and drums build on the tempo they are again joined with some great guitar riffs. This is a perfect bridge in the album between the previous track and the next one.

‘Who Needs a Soul’ after 3 differing tracks, we are rocking again with a nice guitar intro and then a cacophony of bass and drums. This is a confident track, which returns the album to where it started with pounding instrumentation, reverb and killer Blues driven guitar licks. The track fades out with reverb. This feeds into ‘Be Your Man’ which follows on where the previous track left off. The drumming is energetic and forms a great base for the bass and the nifty guitar work.

‘Hurricane’ – This track shows that the Bad Flowers are not rooted in the 70’s as there are hints of 80’s and 90’s Rock, with a ‘Cult’ feel about it. This however is mixed in with classic guitar riffs and bassy drums. The track has a crossover feel about it.

‘I Don’t Believe’ Again has more than a hint of Led Zeppelin in it. I think this is due to the drumming and supporting bass. The chorus again is catchy, and will have you singing it when you leave the gig. The distortion on the guitar coupled with the sustain is sublime. This is not one of the strongest tracks on the album, but that does not mean its weak!

‘City Lights’ closes the album and it is again another number with its roots very much in the Blues. Its chorus is reminiscent of the first track of the album, so this ‘squares the circle’. The rest of the band, as per the previous track join in with backing vocals. As previously, the bass is pounding and the drumming has plenty of symbol action. Combine this with frantic fretwork and you have a classic sound. This is a really good track to end the album on. And it feeds into the first track if you want to listen to the album again. Something I would recommend.

The production and running order of this album has been very well thought out, with it starting and ending with strong Rock songs. The filling of the sandwich has Blues and acoustic tracks. I am a great believer that a good album should be listened to in order. This is an album that should be listened to in order. I would loved to have heard the album on vinyl as I think it would have added a warmer tone to it.

It has been a long time since I have heard such a strong debut album as this one. It made a welcome change to hear an album of Blues influenced Rock, played by 3 musicians who complement each other so well. The Bad Flowers have perfected their craft and I expect them to be here to stay. These 3 guys from the ‘Black Country’ make a lot of noise, but can also play beautiful gentle melancholic songs. There are no passengers in this band. I know it is very early in the year but I think this is already a main contender for my 2018 release of the year. 'Starting Gun' is set for release on 16th February, with a double A side single being released with new tracks 'Thunder Child' and 'Lions Blood'. If you want some free advice, go get your hands on one. You can thank me later!

Review - Tony Creek

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